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Nighttime and early morning bombings in Baghdad kill at least 20

Civilians inspect the site of a deadly bomb attack, in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, May 30, 2017. Another
Civilians inspect the site of a deadly bomb attack Tuesday in Baghdad.
(Karim Kadim / Associated Press)

For residents of Baghdad — Iraq’s capital — Tuesday proved yet again that, no matter whether one is young or old, civilian or military, no one is spared the carnage raging across the country.

Two bombs ripped through Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 20 people and wounding dozens more, according to Sumariyah News. Other news outlets put the death toll at 27.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks via Amaq, a news agency affiliated with the group, saying they had targeted “gatherings of Shiites” and “had exterminated scores of them.”

The group, also known as ISIS, espouses a harsh interpretation of Sunni Islamic law, and counts Shiites as apostates who are to be killed.

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The first attack hit the Faqmeh ice cream shop in Karada, a shopping district that has been a frequent target of the jihadists.

Video posted to social media on Tuesday depicted a tree-lined thoroughfare crowded with cars. A powerful flash temporarily blinds the camera, then dissolves into a large fireball unfurling over Karada.

A photo shows the floor of the ice cream parlor, a popular destination for Baghdad residents enjoying a cool treat after their daily Ramadan fast, littered with colored cups alongside stains of ice cream and blood. Footage taken in the minutes after the attack depicts a chaotic scene.

In one video, a little girl walks briskly around victims and corpses on the ground. The camera follows her for an instant, then turns to a woman lying as if asleep on the pavement.

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“Ambulance … ambulance,” shouts one man, his voice turning hoarse with the effort, before he implores the woman, his mother, to sit up. She doesn’t respond.

Another shows a man over the body of a man he says was “getting married in two weeks” while others wail in the background.

Hours later, a bomb in a car parked near the General Pension Department detonated during official working hours, killing retired citizens who were on hand to collect their pensions as well as vendors from the nearby fish market.

The city of Paris said the lights of the iconic Eiffel Tower would be turned off at midnight “to pay tribute to the victims of the Baghdad attacks.”

Brett McGurk, special envoy to the U.S.-led coalition, said in a tweet Tuesday that “ISIS terrorists tonight in Baghdad target children and families enjoying time together at an ice cream shop.”

“We stand [with] Iraq against this evil.”

Islamic State often exhorts its adherents to conduct operations during Ramadan. In the latest issue of its English-language magazine Rumiyah, released on Friday, it called on readers to “go forth and may you get a great reward or martyrdom” in return for conducting an operation during the month, which Muslims consider one of the holiest times of the year.

Tuesday’s explosions would not be the first time Islamic State has targeted Karada during Ramadan.

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In July 2016, a refrigerator truck packed with explosives blew up in the heart of Karada, a Shiite-majority district that is lined with cafes, restaurants and shops. During Ramadan, it is packed with residents having a night out after the iftar meal breaking the fast. More than 324 were killed. It was the deadliest such attack since 2003.

Then as now, Baghdad residents felt helpless. Despite hundreds of checkpoints and thousands of security personnel manning the roads in and out of the capital, the government has been unable to stop the flow of a seemingly endless supply of Islamic State car bombs into Baghdad.

A measure of the frustration could be felt Tuesday when a hacker took down the website of the National Security apparatus. In its stead, they put up an angry statement on the main page that accused the security force of being ineffective because of corruption and nepotism.

“Neglect regarding the lives of people is one of the top reasons for the destruction of this country,” said the statement. “Till when will you make a joke of Iraq?”

Bulos is a special correspondent.

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UPDATES:

2 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with Los Angeles Times reporting.

This article was originally published at 6:25 a.m.


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